Two Noble Kinsmen Scenes
A place near the Lists.
(Theseus; Hippolyta; Emilia; Pirithous; Attendants; Servants; Arcite)
Emilia refuses to witness the fight. Both Theseus and Hippolyta insist that she must, as she is the object of the fight, but she will not budge. In the end they let her be. Left alone, Emilia still considers the differences between the two knights. The fighting is heard in the distance. Hearing cries that Palamon has won, she sends servants to confirm this, but they reports that though he had almost won, he was beaten back, and the fight is continuing. Soon more shouting is heard, and Arcite’s victory reported. Emilia grieves for Palamon. Theseus arrives with the court and Arcite, and gives him to her. Theseus praises Arcite to the skies, but Emilia finds no mercy in the situation. ( line)
Flourish. Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia, Pirithous, and some Attendants.
I’ll no step further.
Will you lose this sight?
I had rather see a wren hawk at a fly
Than this decision. Ev’ry blow that falls
Threats a brave life, each stroke laments
The place whereon it falls, and sounds more like
A bell than blade. I will stay here,
It is enough my hearing shall be punish’d
With what shall happen—’gainst the which there is
No deafing—but to hear, not taint mine eye
With dread sights it may shun.
Sir, my good lord,
Your sister will no further.
O, she must.
She shall see deeds of honor in their kind
Which sometime show well, pencill’d. Nature now
Shall make and act the story, the belief
Both seal’d with eye and ear. You must be present,
You are the victor’s meed, the price and garland
To crown the question’s title.
If I were there, I’ld wink.
You must be there;
This trial is as ’twere i’ th’ night, and you
The only star to shine.
I am extinct,
There is but envy in that light which shows
The one the other. Darkness, which ever was
The dam of Horror, who does stand accurs’d
Of many mortal millions, may even now,
By casting her black mantle over both,
That neither could find other, get herself
Some part of a good name, and many a murder
Set off whereto she’s guilty.
You must go.
In faith, I will not.
Why, the knights must kindle
Their valor at your eye. Know, of this war
You are the treasure, and must needs be by
To give the service pay.
Sir, pardon me,
The title of a kingdom may be tried
Out of itself.
Well, well then, at your pleasure.
Those that remain with you could wish their office
To any of their enemies.
I am like to know your husband ’fore yourself
By some small start of time. He whom the gods
Do of the two know best, I pray them he
Be made your lot.
Exeunt Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, etc.
Arcite is gently visag’d; yet his eye
Is like an engine bent, or a sharp weapon
In a soft sheath; mercy and manly courage
Are bedfellows in his visage. Palamon
Has a most menacing aspect, his brow
Is grav’d, and seems to bury what it frowns on,
Yet sometime ’tis not so, but alters to
The quality of his thoughts; long time his eye
Will dwell upon his object; melancholy
Becomes him nobly. So does Arcite’s mirth,
But Palamon’s sadness is a kind of mirth,
So mingled as if mirth did make him sad,
And sadness merry; those darker humors that
Stick misbecomingly on others, on him
Live in fair dwelling.
Cornets. Trumpets sound as to a charge.
Hark how yon spurs to spirit do incite
The princes to their proof! Arcite may win me,
And yet may Palamon wound Arcite to
The spoiling of his figure. O, what pity
Enough for such a chance? If I were by,
I might do hurt, for they would glance their eyes
Toward my seat, and in that motion might
Omit a ward, or forfeit an offense,
Which crav’d that very time. It is much better
I am not there. O, better never born
Than minister to such harm!
Cornets. A great cry and noise within, crying “A Palamon!”
What is the chance?
The cry’s “A Palamon!”
Then he has won. ’Twas ever likely:
He look’d all grace and success, and he is
Doubtless the prim’st of men. I prithee run
And tell me how it goes.
Shout and cornets. Crying “A Palamon!” within.
Run and inquire.
Poor servant, thou hast lost.
Upon my right side still I wore thy picture,
Palamon’s on the left. Why so, I know not;
I had no end in’t else; chance would have it so.
On the sinister side the heart lies; Palamon
Had the best-boding chance.
Another cry, and shout within, and cornets.
This burst of clamor
Is sure th’ end o’ th’ combat.
They said that Palamon had Arcite’s body
Within an inch o’ th’ pyramid, that the cry
Was general “A Palamon!”; but anon
Th’ assistants made a brave redemption, and
The two bold titlers at this instant are
Hand to hand at it.
Were they metamorphis’d
Both into one—O why? There were no woman
Worth so compos’d a man! Their single share,
Their nobleness peculiar to them, gives
The prejudice of disparity, value’s shortness,
To any lady breathing.
Cornets. Cry within, “Arcite, Arcite!”
Nay, now the sound is “Arcite.”
I prithee lay attention to the cry;
Set both thine ears to th’ business.
Cornets. A great shout and cry, “Arcite! Victory!”
The cry is
“Arcite!” and “victory!” Hark, “Arcite! Victory!”
The combat’s consummation is proclaim’d
By the wind instruments.
That Arcite was no babe. God’s lid, his richness
And costliness of spirit look’d through him, it could
No more be hid in him than fire in flax,
Than humble banks can go to law with waters
That drift-winds force to raging. I did think
Good Palamon would miscarry, yet I knew not
Why I did think so. Our reasons are not prophets
When oft our fancies are. They are coming off.
Alas, poor Palamon!
Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, Arcite as victor, and Attendants, etc.
Lo, where our sister is in expectation,
Yet quaking and unsettled. Fairest Emily,
The gods by their divine arbitrement
Have given you this knight: he is a good one
As ever strook at head. Give me your hands.
Receive you her, you him, be plighted with
A love that grows as you decay.
To buy you I have lost what’s dearest to me
Save what is bought, and yet I purchase cheaply,
As I do rate your value.
O loved sister,
He speaks now of as brave a knight as e’er
Did spur a noble steed. Surely the gods
Would have him die a bachelor, lest his race
Should show i’ th’ world too godlike. His behavior
So charm’d me that methought Alcides was
To him a sow of lead. If I could praise
Each part of him to th’ all I have spoke, your Arcite
Did not lose by’t; for he that was thus good
Encount’red yet his better. I have heard
Two emulous Philomels beat the ear o’ th’ night
With their contentious throats, now one the higher,
Anon the other, then again the first,
And by and by out-breasted, that the sense
Could not be judge between ’em. So it far’d
Good space between these kinsmen; till heavens did
Make hardly one the winner.—Wear the girlond
With joy that you have won.—For the subdu’d,
Give them our present justice, since I know
Their lives but pinch ’em. Let it here be done.
The scene’s not for our seeing, go we hence,
Right joyful, with some sorrow.—Arm your prize,
I know you will not loose her.—Hippolyta,
I see one eye of yours conceives a tear,
The which it will deliver.
Is this winning?
O all you heavenly powers, where is your mercy?
But that your wills have said it must be so,
And charge me live to comfort this unfriended,
This miserable prince, that cuts away
A life more worthy from him than all women,
I should and would die too.
That four such eyes should be so fix’d on one
That two must needs be blind for’t!
So it is.